NORWALK (AP) — U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris said Wednesday that she isn’t picking sides in Apple Inc.’s fight with the FBI over accessing a locked and encrypted iPhone used by used by a gunman in the San Bernardino shootings that left 14 dead.
Harris, the state attorney general and the leading candidate to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, told reporters that a solution needs to be worked out that balances the interests of public safety with a technology industry that frequently faces questions about consumer privacy and snooping.
“We want law enforcement to have access to the material that we need to be able to save lives ... but the issue is also what we are going to do in terms of policy going forward,” Harris said.
“What will the protocols be going forward?” asked Harris, a Democrat. “Under what circumstances and conditions should there be access?”
The dispute over the iPhone presents a tricky political quandary for any Senate candidate in California, home to Apple, Facebook and Google.
Government records show Harris’ Senate campaign has received checks from employees of the three companies, and last year she appeared with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to promote safer online communities, especially among younger people. Sandberg has given the Harris campaign over $5,000.
As the state’s top prosecutor, Harris’ position also represents a partial break with the FBI. Agency director James Comey has said in an online post that Apple owes it to the San Bernardino victims to cooperate. Last week, Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym in California ordered Apple to create specialized software to help the FBI hack into the iPhone.
The heads of Facebook, Twitter and Google have all sided with Apple on the grounds that complying with the government’s request would ultimately undermine data privacy.
“I don’t think it’s as simple as taking one side or the other,” Harris said. “There are details that have to be worked out.”
A spokesman for Harris’ chief rival, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-California, did not immediately return a phone call.
Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire Dec. 2 at a holiday meeting of his San Bernardino County co-workers. They died hours later in a shootout with police. The 14 people killed marked the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.